Hybrid Mobile Apps
A hybrid mobile application (or hybrid mobile app) is a mobile application that runs inside of a native container and leverages the device’s web browser to display locally hosted HTML5 pages. Hybrid mobile apps are composed mostly of HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS3. Device specific functionalities such as camera access, geolocation, and accelerometer readings are exposed through a JavaScript API.
Differences from Native Apps and Mobile Web Apps
Hybrid mobile apps contain a mixture of native app and mobile web app concepts. They do contain native code but are not completely native. Typically the native code is provided by a framework and reveals a JavaScript API so that the app’s JavaScript code can perform native functions such as taking a picture with the camera. Extra functionality can also be implemented by creating native “plugin” components for the framework that perform a native task.

Unlike mobile web app’s, which store source files on a server, hybrid mobile apps store HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS3 files locally so no Internet access is required to launch a hybrid mobile app. To the user a hybrid mobile app appears to be no different than a native app; it is launched and closed in the same manner as opposed to a mobile web app, which must be accessed through the device’s web browser app.

Hybrid mobile apps allow code reuse across platforms. Let the library or framework you are using take care of the platform specific differences and use the same JavaScript code on both platforms.

JavaScript is something that many developers are already familiar with where something like the iOS development tools are more specialized. It can be argued that there is less of a learning curve when developing hybrid mobile apps compared to native apps.

The apps interface and logic can be built and debugged in the web browser using an emulation framework. This could lower development costs depending on the tools required to develop native apps for the target platforms.

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